Thursday June 25, 2015
Flat Tops Fishing Report (06/24/15)
The flows on the rivers and streams in the Flat Tops continue to run fast and high, but they are dropping steadily. The worst of the runoff is behind us. We expect things to heat up in a big way over the next two weeks. With the rivers and streams remaining a couple of weeks away from ideal conditions, now is a great time to book a horseback trip to one of the many beautiful backcountry lakes in the Flat Tops of Colorado.
Flat Tops Rivers and Streams:
The White River is often regarded as consisting primarily of private water. While there are large sections of the White both above and below the confluence that do require access to private land, the perception that no public water exists is far from accurate. Below the confluence, several public access areas have been established by Colorado Parks and Wildlife. Above the confluence, several miles of public access is available on both the North and South Forks within the White River National Forest.
The North Fork of the White River produces some very nice cutthroats, rainbows and whitefish; many in the 16-20 inch range. Downstream, toward Meeker, 24 inchers are not uncommon. Closer to Trappers Lake, the fishing for brookies is generally excellent.
The North Fork is still running high, but the water is clear and the flows from the spring runoff are gradually decreasing. Wading is still discouraged. Over the next two weeks, we expect conditions to improve considerably. Right now, we’re seeing the most success fishing near the banks with stone fly patterns (#10-#14), BH golden-ribbed hare’s ear (#18-#22) and BH pheasant tail (#18-#20).
Access on the North Fork is somewhat limited, but the public water within the forest boundaries is not heavily fished. Stop in to the lodge and we’ll point you in the right direction. Be sure to respect private property boundaries. Most are well-marked.
The South Fork of the White River offers more public access than the North Fork, especially for those willing to do a little walking. The South Fork Trail (#1827) follows the river for about 24 miles. The trail is an easy to moderate walk and is well-traveled by hikers and horseback riders, but most fisherman don’t venture more than a few hundred yards from the campground, so don’t be deterred if the trailhead parking lot is busy.
The South Fork is slowly returning to pre-runoff levels, but the water remains off color and wading is still tricky. We recommend focusing on the pools and behind structure near the banks. A dry-dropper rig is your best option. BWOs (#18-#20), parachute Adams (#16-#20), red quills (#16-#20) and royal coachmen (#16-#20) have all proven effective dry flies. For droppers, we suggest a WD40 (#20-#22), BH pheasant tail (#18-#20) or a tungsten BH birds nest (#16-#20).
Marvine Creek is accessed via the Marvine Trail (#1823). The parking lot at the trail head is often full of vehicles and horse trailers, but the creek receives very little fishing pressure. If you’re look to fill a pan full of brookies for dinner, Marvine Creek is a wise choice.
Marvine Creek is still running high, but the water is clear. If you can access some of the pools behind log jams, you might have some success with BWO emergers, caddis imitations and wooly buggers.
Flat Tops Lakes:
Trappers Lake offers a great opportunity to land a large native cutthroat. Trappers is on fire right now. Reports are coming in of anglers landing 20-30 fish per day. Nice size cuts are cruising the shallows, especially early and late in the day. We’re seeing consistent success with golden ribbed hare's ears (#14-#16), elk hair caddis (#16-#18), renegades (#14-#16), pheasant tails (#16-#18), Adams (#16-#18), blue duns (#16-#20), light cahills (#16-#18) and quill gordons (#16-#18).
Be sure to familiarize yourself with the special regulations for Trappers. Only artificial flies and lures are permitted and the number and size of cutthroats in possession is restricted, but keep all of the brookies you’d like! The lake sits within the boundaries of the Flat Tops Wilderness, so motorized vehicles and watercraft are prohibited.
Big Fish Lake is reached using the Big Fish Trail (#1819). The Big Fish Trailhead is on the left as you enter the Himes Peak Campground. The campground is on the Trappers Lake Road 6 miles from the intersection with County Rd 8. The trail sees some heavy use in the summer months, primarily by horseback riders.
Skinny Fish Lake is accessed via the Skinny Fish Trail (#1813). The reports from Skinny Fish are mostly that the action is a little slow. Anglers are reporting some success with orange stimulators (#12-#16), royal coachman (#14-#16) and irresistibles (#14-#18). Trailing a prince nymph (#16-#20) or a scud (#16-#20) behind a hopper (#10-#14) wouldn’t be a bad idea.
Shamrock Lake and Mirror Lake offer beautiful settings to pull in brookies all day long. Both lakes are accessed via the Mirror Lake Trail (#1821). Virtually any caddis or mayfly patterns (#18-#24) are bound to bring fish to the surface.